Whether it's windsurfing, windfoiling, dockstartfoiling or pronefoiling: Florian Jung hits the water as soon as the wind blows. We talked to the professional windsurfer about his beginnings and his preferences in windsurfing.
You’re a professional windsurfer and have been travelling the world as a wave rider for many years. How did you get into windsurfing?
Florian Jung: "I stood on a surfboard for the first time on a small lake near Saarbrücken. As I had previous sailing experience, I quickly knew how to use the wind to my advantage. Gliding weightlessly over the water with a board fascinated me right from the start and the wind has been a big part of my life ever since. At the age of 17, I went to Hawaii to a kind of "surf boarding school" and that laid the foundation for my later professional career.“
You’ve also discovered a passion for wingfoiling – why is that?
Florian Jung: "When wingfoiling came up a few years ago, I was a bit sceptical. The material wasn't fully developed yet and I didn't see any added value for me personally. One of my sponsors gave me a few boards to test and to my amazement I quickly realized how many benefits there were. You hardly need any wind or waves to really have fun. So I was able to maximise my time on the water and I learn new tricks in every session."
The foiling principle inspires many athletes, and even non-watersports enthusiasts are fascinated by it. How does a foil and floating over water work? How do you get the board to lift out of the water?
Florian Jung: "Similar to the wings of an airplane, the foil generates positive and negative pressure. Due to their shape, the wings of the foil develop a fast flow on the upper side and a slow flow on the lower side. This creates lift. As soon as the board is lifted out of the water, the resistance is reduced and the speed increases massively. At the same time the necessary propulsive force (e.g. wind force) also decreases. It’s a unique feeling of flying, but one that requires a little dexterity at the beginning."
There are many different watersports with foils. Can you tell us about them? And is the same foil used for every board sport?
Florian Jung: "You can put a foil under almost all watersports equipment. It doesn't matter whether it's for America's Cup racing yachts or for surfing giant waves. The possibilities seem limitless. Therefore sports like kitesurfing, SUP, windsurfing, surfing and now wingfoiling have been revolutionized in recent years. Depending on your speed, board size and weight, you need different foils or wings. In SUP or surfing, larger wings are usually better. In kitesurfing, winging or windsurfing, on the other hand, smaller ones are used because they’re more suitable for higher speeds. There are now also e-foils that are driven by integrated electric motors."
Which foil is your favourite - and why?
Florian Jung: "I only use foils for wing and prone surfing –which is surfing without a wing in smaller waves. At some point, all that equipment becomes too much. For me, this is the best alternative to have a good experience on the water in all imaginable conditions."
Prone foiling means going into the waves with just a board, leash and foil – but without wind. That's not so easy – and yet many people are trying prone foiling. How does it work?
Florian Jung: "It really isn’t very easy. Just like surfing, you paddle towards a wave. The momentum of the wave creates propulsion and the foil lifts out of the water. Using pumping movements, you can then continue to “surf” without any wave thrust at a low speed, riding wave after wave. It requires a lot of leg work, but it’s a lot of fun because you can take advantage of the slightest wave momentum."
Dockstart foiling is becoming more and more popular. Have you tried it yet?
Florian Jung: "Yes, to dock launch a foil board you jump onto the board from a jetty and can then move around on the water by pumping. The right timing and some stamina are important prerequisites here. When it works, it's really fun and the ultimate full-body workout."
It’s said that "wingfoiling is the illegitimate child of kitesurfing and windsurfing" - what's the actual truth?
Florian Jung: "For sure there are components of both windsurfing and kitesurfing, but ultimately I’d say it’s a completely new technique. If you look at the current wingfoil scene, you’ll see a colourful mix of both sports. Ultimately we all just want a good experience on the water."
Why do you think more and more surfers are switching from windsurfing and kitesurfing to wingfoiling even though there are also foils available for windsurfing and kitesurfing?
Florian Jung: "I think every new sport offers creative possibilities and is also pushed accordingly by the industry. Like wingfoiling is an additional option for me. Wingfoiling is new and therefore very popular at the moment - especially since it offers a wide range of conditions and can be practised with a manageable amount of equipment."
Windsurfing or wingfoiling - which do you prefer and why?
Florian Jung: "I’ve been windsurfing for 20 years now. But wing surfing only for two years. So with 18 years more experience in windsurfing it's difficult to compare. For me, there is no either/or but rather a combination. In really good conditions with big waves, I still prefer windsurfing, but in light winds with small waves nothing beats a wing session. I see myself as a waterman who tries to adapt optimally to nature. I now have the best possible gear for all conceivable weather conditions and I’m very grateful for that. In the past, I often sat on the beach waiting for wind. Today, I just ask myself, which board I can have the most fun with on the water."
You’ve already demonstrated a wing foil board at boot Düsseldorf - will we see you again at boot 2023?
Florian Jung: "I don't think I could miss it. On the one hand, nearly all of my sponsors will be there and you can check out all the new products, on the other hand you see many familiar faces and meet like-minded people."
What do you associate with boot Düsseldorf? What are you looking forward to most at the next fair?
Florian Jung: "For me, the boot offers a unique opportunity to discover the entire spectrum of watersports and also to look beyond the end of my nose and consider what new product innovations there are in other areas. What could I try or combine in my next surf session? And of course I’ll also take a look at one or two sailing yachts since I’m hoping to sail around the world with my family in a few years."
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